- Kungsleden thru-hike Guide/ Trip Report
- Notes on Current Books
- A National Journal of Literature & Discussion
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The lake was frozen and came as a pleasant surprise to us. It is really pretty and there are a dozen campsites in that area. We decided to continue ahead as we wanted to camp near the Snowy Mountain detour. There are a ton of creeks all along this way, so don't fret over water availability.
We continued another 2 miles to find a campsite pretty close to the detour to Old Snowy Mountain. Overall this was 9 miles, including 1 mile detour to Hawkeye point. Next day morning we started a day hike to Old Snowy Mountain. There are a bunch of campsites where the Old Snowy trail cuts from the main trail. There are also campsites all along the Old Snowy trail, so I recommend getting one with a good view plenty options. Please be a good citizen! I highly recommend doing this trail if you can. There are a few small snow sections, but nothing technical.
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I am not great with snow, and I could do them without pulling out my microspikes. The trail is very well marked. Overall this was close to 6. We returned to our campsite after the day hike, had lunch and packed up. Now it is all mildly downhill and comfortable journey all the way back to the trailhead. We clocked 12 miles from our campsite back to TH, including 7 miles detour to Old Snowy. Hiked: Jul 4, Three friends and I were originally planning on heading to the North Cascades for the 4th of July, but forecasts of thunderstorms for two of the three nights we'd be out forced us to look elsewhere.
After hearing weather was supposed to be better in the Goat Rocks and doing a quick map check, we landed on what wound up being probably the hardest way for us to get in and out of the Goat Rocks wilderness. But we had some good views, lots of quality trail time, and an adventure. After spending the night before at La Wis Wis, we headed into Packwood for some coffee and super-good pastries at Mountain Goat cafe, then headed to the trailhead. We'd mapped out a rough loop that required going in via the Clear Lost trailhead, which is really just a turnout on Highway Because of this, the trail immediately drops several hundred feet in one mile to a ford of the Cowlitz River.
The ford wasn't terrible, which was a relief. Two of us are around 6 feet tall, the other two closer to 5'5" and everyone crossed without incident.
Kungsleden thru-hike Guide/ Trip Report
Onward to a junction where a spooky old shack marked our first stop for snacks. From the shack we continued on to scenic Lost Hat Lake, with a little detour in a basin where we lost the trail for a minute. Luckily another hiker came along and beelined in the right direction. We saw our mistake and were back on track immediately. Lost Hat Lake is more than half melted out, but there is still a lot of snow in it, and there had been a fair number of snow patches to cross on the way to this point. Because of all the snow, we were a little nervous about getting up and over the ridge where the old lookout site is, since it's roughly northeast-facing.
So we moved on quickly from Lost Hat, hoping to get up and over the ridge, and thinking of Plan Bs if we couldn't. The two heaviest of us went first, kicking in steps along the way and walking slowly.
Notes on Current Books
We crossed all of the snowfields safely, though the very last snowfield before the top was no fun for me; I had to make a weird step to get off the snowfield, and wound up on some loose gravel. Maintaining three points of contact helped, but it's not a move I'd like to repeat. The trail is better past the old lookout site; even the north-facing aspect is totally dry, but the risk here is narrow tread on loose, gravelly soil. Our biggest elevation gain day.
Originally we'd hoped to cross The Knife and camp in Snowgrass Flats, but we were skeptical about being able to do that, since snow had been such a concern the day before. We crossed paths with a fastpacker at about 11am. He was heading out the way we'd come in, and he said the PCT was fine; just that there was one sketchy snowfield but it was totally navigable.
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However, the Coyote Trail slowed us down. We spent most of our time on it because it was so steep, and it does this frustrating huge-climb-into-a-mega-descent maneuver, only to require hiker to gain it all back in a mile and a half to get to Elk Pass. Overall, the trail is in OK shape, but there's an exposed section of it just before it drops to Packwood Saddle that half of us hiked quite slowly. There's no snow here; it's just slippy gravel, but the two of us slipped a couple of times each. Not a great feeling with a full pack. By the time we hit Packwood Saddle, we all needed a snack break.
Two of our group were out of water. The rest of us had plenty to share, but we decided if we didn't see water in the mile and a half to Elk Pass, we'd head north on the PCT instead of up and over the Knife. There wasn't any water between the Saddle and the Pass. And we decided not to do the Knife for a few reasons:. Despite fairly positive reports of the PCT trail conditions we heard: "It's fine" and "It's totally clear, you'll be fine" , the sketchiest snow crossing we did was on the PCT north from Elk Pass, so the excitement of the day wasn't over.
Again, we took it slow, and used our hiking sticks for balance. Because it was late in the day, the snow was soft, so it was easy for feet to slip out of the already-stomped steps. It wasn't fun, but we all got across safely, and some of us celebrated by glissading down a very moderately sloped embankment to the first water we'd seen all day. I celebrated by run-walking down mercifully stable trail to the tarn.
Just past this tarn was a gorgeous campsite. We'd planned on staying at McCall Basin, but after we saw this spot, we changed plans. It had a gorgeous view, and we were vindicated in our choice of not crossing the Knife when we watched clouds come in that evening. These of course also ruined our view of Rainier, socking in the entire high country above us, including the Knife and most of the basin we were in. Also on this day one of our group found an adult tick crawling on her after we'd been on the Coyote Trail. This of course sent me into paranoid overdrive, but no one else found any for the rest of the trip.
Thank [insert deity here]. At this point we'd revamped our plan several times, going back and forth about whether we'd come out via the Clear Fork trail which we knew was likely to be brushy and hard to follow, but provided a direct route back to our car or the PCT north past Shoe Lake prettier, but longer with camps that were likely to be more full, and required hitching or roadwalking back to our car. Incidentally, during the entirety of this trip we saw probably 20 people total. Not a lot for a holiday weekend in the Goat Rocks.
We decided to make the call at Tieton Pass. On the way down, we passed a father-daughter-doggo group who told us they'd come up Clear Fork and it hadn't been bad, except for a bit of route-finding through an old burn. We started to think maybe the Clear Fork trail would be the way to go. But, by the time we got to the pass, the Clear Fork trail was looking pretty uninviting compared to the manicured PCT.
After talking again about the pros and cons, we ultimately decided the direct route would be better, since we wanted to camp at the Cowlitz River ford and get an early start to beat traffic on our last day. We dropped in, and immediately felt committed to Clear Fork. I was pleasantly surprised at what relatively good condition the Clear Fork trail is in.
A National Journal of Literature & Discussion
With the exception of what was probably a quarter- to a third-mile of routefinding through old burn towards the bottom of the descent, the trail is easy to follow. There are a three major creek crossings that require rock-hopping, log-walking or fording, but nothing that anyone in our group felt unsafe doing. And of course, we saw no one else. This wound up being our longest day, clocking in at 11 miles, and by the time we got to the final ford of the Cowlitz, we were happy to be able to cool off in the river and chill at camp.
Our last day.
We packed up camp and zipped up the hill, doing a neat one-mile warmup hike to our car, where we changed into less-sweaty clothes and beelined for Packwood and more of those pastries before heading home. Our pick: the cheesy biscuits and these amazing flaky popover things with asparagus, egg, and pesto. Overall a great trip, and I'm very thankful to have spent it with friends.
Low creeping meadow grasses with flowers of pink and white and bright red berries. She knew fear in the snapping of branches and the thudding of boots on leaf mold. She knew how to run in darting zigzag rushes, how to find cover in thin flickering shadows. How to go to ground like a fox, frozen, immobile, not even eyes moving.
She knew the unbelievable joy of escape when her whole body shivered with spasms of delight. At full moon a hoop snake held tail in mouth and rolled down a white shell road, singing loudly—a special song, high and shrill, like wind around fence posts and barbed wire.
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A rooster, ash gray and ten feet tall, perched on the very top of a white oak tree and crowed like thunder. Round green formless lights chittered like squirrels as they played tag across the sky. She had seen them, all of them. She knew the ways of a campfire at night, how it grew and gained strength, baby into man, as it moved from dry grass to twigs to kindling sticks to logs. She knew that safety was with others, around a fire, packed close together, partly for warmth, partly for the comfort that huddling and the feel of another body gave. She knew other things also, things beyond the short reach of her memory.
Things that her sister Sylvie told her.